Calling cadres to battle on two fronts, the president highlights the government's Sars-prevention efforts in provincial areas President Hu Jintao yesterday called on cadres to aim for a 'double victory' in China's quest to combat Sars and maintain robust economic growth. On a tour of Sichuan province, Mr Hu reminded officials of the importance of sustaining the nation's economic momentum. The Communist Party had taken an important decision that the country must fight Sars while maintaining its grip on economic progress, Xinhua quoted Mr Hu as saying. Meanwhile, state television reported that China's economy grew 8.9 per cent last month compared with the same period last year. As Mr Hu made his rallying call, China reported its lowest one-day increase in new Sars cases since the government began reporting such figures a month ago. The Ministry of Health reported 55 new cases yesterday morning. Beijing, which has the nation's highest caseload, reported 39 new cases. Inner Mongolia, a Sars hot spot last week, reported no new cases, while Shanxi province's four new cases and Hebei province's three were previous suspect cases. Guangdong, which first reported the disease late last year, showed further signs of improvement. The province said only one person, previously a suspected Sars case, had fallen sick and that 15 more were suspected of becoming ill, in the 24 hours ending yesterday morning. On Tuesday, authorities in Guangdong reported no new cases for the first time in several weeks. Over the past week, the province has reported two or three new confirmed cases daily. But Guangdong's single new case yesterday did not mean the epidemic there was over, the World Health Organisation cautioned. The province could declare victory over Sars only if it encountered no new case over 20 days, said WHO spokeswoman Mangai Balasegaram. 'One or two-day figures do not make a trend,' she said. 'What we'd like to see is the numbers remain low over the next couple of weeks.' WHO officials, who fear that the Sars epidemic may not have peaked in China, have warned that the crisis could worsen as the virus spreads to rural areas, which lack the facilities and personnel to tackle the disease. In an attempt to highlight the central government's emphasis on the countryside, Mr Hu inspected long-distance bus stations and health checkpoints in townships and counties. WHO experts began a five-day trip to Henan, China's largest province, which has 15 Sars cases and one million Aids victims. The People's Bank of China said yesterday it was confident China would achieve its growth target of 7 per cent for the year. Speaking at an economic conference in Beijing yesterday, former vice-minister of foreign trade Long Yongtu also maintained that Sars has had a limited impact on the economy so far, but acknowledged there could be serious consequences. 'If China fails to maintain economic growth of 6 or 7 per cent, many problems in the course of reform will emerge,' he said.